In the previous edition of AD&D, TSR had published several different books containing monsters: the Monster Manual, Monster Manual II, and Fiend Folio. These were separate, hardcover books just like the standard rulebooks. But for AD&D second edition--published in 1989--the research and development team decided on a different strategy: they would publish the Monstrous Compendium as a 3-ring binder. The first volume came with the binder and 144 sheets of monsters, with dividers; later volumes would come either as a shrink-wrapped set of monster sheets, or, for major expansions, include a new binder. A new monstrous compendium was released for each game-world TSR developed, and also annual releases containing reprints from other sources, such as TSR's magazines, Dungeon and Dragon.
|The complete collection of all the Monstrous Compendia|
Why am I writing about this in an ASL blog? Because TSR got the idea for this organization from ASL, according to Steve Winter, who worked in R&D for the company at the time:
"The idea of a 3-ring binder, we were kicking that around a lot...right about this time is when Advanced Squad Leader came out by Avalon Hill, with the rules in a 3-ring binder, so you could, you know, they were all organized by category, so they could publish errata and you could just file those pages in. And we thought that was such a great idea."
And of course, AD&D fans typically would put the sheets in page protectors, or even scan them and only use copies rather than the originals. So there you go.